What is Probation?
Probation is a system wherein a person convicted of a crime is released back into the community instead of serving the jail sentence imposed as punishment for their offense. It is a form of supervision program, where the offender must abide by specific conditions dictated by the court and overseen in most cases by a probation officer charged with keeping tabs on the offender.
If the individual doesn’t complete any of the mandated requirements to the satisfaction of the officer and/or the court, or fails to comply with any of the terms of their probation, they can be charged with a violation of probation or VOP.
Being charged with probation violation can be very serious. A violation comes with the possibility of invalidating months, and even years of hard work, as probation is revoked, and the person is taken back into custody to serve their original sentence.
Common Requirements of Probation in Jacksonville, Florida
As stated, probation and its terms are dictated by the judge who has presided over the criminal case. Terms commonly imposed by the court include:
- Regularly reporting to their probation officer
- Maintaining gainful employment
- Submission to random drug and alcohol testing
- Community service
- Payment of fines and court fees
- Restitution to victims, if applicable
- Avoiding specified areas and the criminal element
- Confinement to county, or city
o The offender is of course, expect to adhere to the law, and avoid the commission of any new infractions
Imposing terms on a probation tend to vary according to factors including type of offense, harm sustained by any victims, and the prior criminal history of the defendant. Each probation is unique in its own way. What is most important to remember is that the offender must adhere to these terms to the letter, or risk a violation of probation.
What Happens After a Violation of Probation?
When a judge signs a violation order as petitioned by a probation officer, a warrant for the offender’s arrest is usually issued at the same time. Once apprehended, the individual will be brought before a judge, and a determination made as to whether or not a violation did in fact, occur.
This is a precarious position for a defendant, for whom most defenses are compromised by virtue of the violation itself. There is no jury seated for a VOP hearing, but the defendant will be given an opportunity to explain themselves to a judge, or to deny that there was a violation at all. Witnesses against the defendant can be called to testify, and the court can compel the defendant to testify against themselves.
If a person is apprehended on a probation violation, they are expected to remain in custody until their case comes before the judge, which can be weeks, and even months away. It is very unlikely that the possibility of bail will be afforded on a violation of parole arrest. Unless an attorney representing them can secure their release, the offender must remain in jail until their court date.
Because VOP offenders are generally not legally protected as thoroughly as someone who has not been convicted, there can be little recourse available to them other than their legal counsel. This is why it is so important to retain the services of an experienced criminal defense lawyer like the attorneys at Smith & Eulo if you have been charged or believe you will soon be charged with a violation of probation.
Defending Against A Violation of Probation Charge
As potentially disastrous as a VOP can be, many times it is possible to reach out to the probation officer, and clear up what is likely a misunderstanding. Providing the violation in question is a technical one, where the act isn’t willful, and may well be an honest mistake, as opposed to a substantive violation, where a new offense has occurred, legal representation may be able to smooth things over before the petition for violation of probation is petitioned to the court.
Barring this, an experienced legal advocate can help the defendant show that any infraction was not intentional, and that they made every effort to comply and adhere to the terms of their probation. If it can be shown that the defendant acted both reasonably and responsibly, it is entirely possible that the judge will rule in favor of the defendant.
Call Smith & Eulo in Jacksonville, FL for Probation Violation Defense
The expert lawyers at Smith & Eulo have years of experience navigating the complex probation system in Florida, and can help if you have been charged with a violation of probation or have reason to believe you soon will be.
Contact Smith & Eulo today.